The Wayward Manager – We’re moving to Frisco

An intro into the 4th leg of my relocation journey. This move is only halfway through the journey.

I never saw myself leaving the Pacific Northwest. I certainly never thought that I would live in Texas. I remember being at our department face-to-face meeting when my boss casually threw out the offer of moving to a new site. “Hey trick, want to move to Frisco” he yelled. At the time, the proposal was as much a joke as the actual question. I laughed it off and went about the week attending meetings and collaborating with team members I rarely got to see face to face. Somehow by the time I was driving home from Bellevue to Salem, I was having a serious conversation with my wife about throwing my name in the hat as the Resource Planning manager of the Frisco, TX location.
Frisco played a large part in my leadership journey. There were so many situations that required great self-awareness and quick decision-making. I learned a lot about culture, how it shapes people, and how to show understanding of that culture. It made a difference in knowing the best way to approach somebody and see them for who they are.
On my first visit to Frisco, I met the site director. This site director would be one of the most authentic leaders I ever would get to work under. This director was a leader that spoke his mind but relied on his team to identify insights that led to improved performance. He expected his senior leaders to be business owners that could partner together to drive the business. It was not uncommon for a good debate to occur during a meeting, and disagreements were encouraged. I remember walking into his office, one of the smallest director’s offices I had ever seen. When I walked in for our initial one-on-one, I remember him getting up from behind his desk to sit in the chair next to me. It quickly lowered the waterline between us, and he talked candidly about what he saw as opportunities for my team and his expectations.
When I took over the Salem team, I was an outsider. I was a new manager and came from a national role outside the center. Early on, if anything, the team rallied within each other. No one broke from the group to share internal team concerns. When I arrived in Frisco, several team members were quick to pull me aside and talk of work imbalances and unfair or, if anything, inconsistent practices. I should have known that I was in for a new experience when one of them had asked how old I was because I sounded young. The team had an opportunity to learn the role and all the tools used to accomplish it.
In the early days, I spent a lot of time working side by side with team members. Using a shoulder-to-shoulder approach, team members allowed me to observe, teach and set expectations in one sit-down session. I was much more comfortable with my executive presence and knew that being transparent, even with tough messages, was better than the uncertainty that comes from being unclear. I had learned my lessons on where to be diplomatic versus when to put non-negotiables in place.
One of the significant changes with this team was not having a supervisor role within my team. The supervisor position was dissolved and had not been filled before my arrival. I learned to lead differently and not rely on a supervisor for day-to-day communication. I assigned my team members to team managers, almost shifting their roles into analysts. In their meetings with the team managers, my team member would address any needs and communicate our department’s priorities. The Frisco site had three floors, so I split my department and staffed both production floors, creating better accessibility for our operation partners.
Unlike my Salem site, the Frisco location was open 24 hours, seven days a week. Being a new leader and spending most of my early days in meetings between 9-5, I had team members I scarcely knew. I would have phone calls late at night. There were many days when I would go home, have dinner, and put the family to bed. Then I would go back to work to be with my overnight team members. The early days blend so much that I can barely remember any specifics from them.
I was now an experienced manager, and I wanted to start building the experience and exposure needed to climb to the next level of my career. Instead of just being able to call out the problems, I wanted to start working to find solutions. I wanted to develop credibility so that my boss would see me as his first “go-to” when he needed something. I knew this would be tough. Many of our problems were complex and involved systems and people. I was part of a well-tenured and experienced team, and on any given day, any of us could be stand-outs.
I partnered with team members and addressed two significant issues while in Frisco. The first issue was that we had teams that handled very low volume and spent a lot of their work time idle. I identified a solution where we could leverage the existing staffing between all these groups into one sizeable specialized team. The solution helped increase productivity and overtime. Eventually, the solution created an opportunity for these teams to have more standard hours of operation.
It can be challenging to stand out on a highly talented and tenured team. I did not want to compete in a way that pushed my teammates out of the way. In some areas, I did not even have the skill needed. I had to work on developing stronger skills in MS Excel and using the tools we had for analyzing the business. Working to show up first and be early as often as possible was something I leaned into often. This upskilling and planning helped build a leadership role within my peer group and the trust of my leader that I was ready for the next step in my career.
Additionally, it gave me an opportunity for my department to partner with another within our site. This partnership created an opportunity for us to work together on analyzing the business and its impacts. The partnership helped provide insights operations could use in driving efficiencies and improved performance.
I received a lot of recognition while in Frisco. I was recognized by the local senior leadership team for my efforts to partner and drive performance. I received recognition as a values player who developed the credibility to be a leader amongst my peers. Just as my Frisco journey seemed like it could not get any better, soon, I would be looking for a job!
Let me tell you a bit of the personal side, a little behind the curtain of what life is like for a relocating manager.
The Texas move was a huge one for my family. In OR, we were only an eight-hour drive from family. My wife and I had grown up in the Pacific Northwest, and it was a culture that we were very familiar with. Everything is bigger in Texas.
We now had two toddlers and only one car. Sometimes my working hours would house lock my wife for hours in the home with two toddlers. You do not have as many close friends when you move over a thousand miles from home every three years. I did not make enough money to allow us to see family during the holidays.
My weight had become an issue. I remember the night I realized I had yet again grown out the next pants size. With the long work hours and the traditional weight that often comes from having kids, I was touching on 300lbs. I could not imagine needing to go up another size. I couldn’t afford it either.
I spent the next six months focused on getting healthy and losing weight. I wish I could tell you there is a magic pill. It took two works outs a day and a lot of chicken and brown rice, which I continued eating for the next several years to maintain. If I had not made this change, I easily would be well over 300lbs and all the medical issues that potentially come with it.
As the first 12 months of Frisco moved by, we saw progress. Even with the challenges of spending a lot of our savings to visit home, we were starting to consider buying a home. We began to see ourselves settling in Frisco. We began to talk to Realtors and banks about purchasing a house. How was I supposed to know I would not have a job in a few months?

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